RANGER AGAINST WAR: Common Courtesy <

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Common Courtesy


Mister Herbert Hoover

Says that now's the time to buy

So let's have another cup o' coffee

And let's have another piece o' pie!

Let's Have Another Cup of Coffee,

Irving Berlin


Can't help but wonder

what's happening to my companions

Are they lost or are they found,

have they counted the cost

it'll take to bring down

All their earthly principles

they're gonna have to abandon?

--Slow Train,
Bob Dylan

It was terribly dangerous

to let your thoughts wander

when you were in any public place

or within range of a telescreen.

The smallest thing could give you away.

--1984,
George Orwell
____________

Ranger is abrupt and direct, but strives not to be rude. This often takes great effort.

On the road last week, and as often happens when taken out of one's comfort zone, he noticed a new decline in civility all 'round. There were very few exceptional moments to compensate for the overall comedown in courtesy.


All service industries seemed to be manned primarily by people with surly attitudes who take their jobs with a grudge and a chip on their shoulders. The companies -- everyone from Verizon to airlines to the U.S. Postal Service -- have stripped their personnel to a minimum, and the tension and resentment is palpable.


If one has a problem, service from a real online representative is almost non-existent. Police are smart-mouthed and antagonistic, as they and we know their job is now to fill the city's coffers.


In restaurants one is barraged by loud and obnoxious cell phone conversations, forgetting the onslaught from the multiple televisions and stereos imposed by the businesses themselves. It is as though it is all engineered to stop conversation. If there is conversation at a table, it is most likely not with the individual's seatmates but rather, his Blackberry.


The same is true in theaters and shows, where audience members text and answer cell phones incessantly. The once-soothing escape into the dark of the anonymous theater is now denied by a sea of incandescent lights eerily illuminating the wired user's faces.


There is a definite lack of courtesy in our society, and it overflows to politics, network news and every aspect of our daily lives. It is an insidious comedown.


How have we gotten to this point? Will courtesy return?

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Carl said...

Yes it will return - once tens of millions have been wiped off the face of the earth (again). It seems THAT is the only way to make the sheeple focus on what truly is important and what is not. The mind numbing incessant cacophony that surrounds us daily is wholly engineered by the powers that be, to be that way. If only the same dedication, money and concerted effort to dumbing down the world's populace was inverted - we really wouldn't be in the human morass we have been & are experiencing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 8:22:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter said...

Sounds like you better check out some of the posts at Reality Sandwich.
Here's one that's appropriate:
More Optimistic Today Than Ever: A Talk with Pete Seeger.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 10:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

POLT,
Sorry, but i can't see anything but hostility when 2 women in front of me in a grocery store enter the less than 10 article line with overflowing shopping carts, and then argue that they are doing so b/c the other lines are so long.
This happens every time i'm in the store.
I'm sorry , but it eats my ass up.
jim

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 10:11:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous RangerHazen said...

I really don't give a rats ass if people are not civil...The buck stops with me... and all I can do is set an example.Most Folks know me as a generous, kind, and compassionate human being and that's the way I prefer it

and to "Carl" being courteous results in a much more positive and happy life than being cynical.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 3:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Carl said...

RH - Personally I do behave with manners & politeness as best possible, not usually reciprocated but the least I can do is try. Cynical? You bet! Ask any retired cop, you may get much the same response..no surprises there. As to Jim's comment on the armed uniformed govt revenue raisers - it is true and not only happening in the US.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 3:31:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

"their job is now to fill the city's coffers"

Let's see... in what kind of society historicaly has law enforcement's primary objective to be to fill coffers? Oh year - Feudalism.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous RangerHazen said...

Roger that Carl...20+ years of Police Work will do that. I think you for your hard work and service to your community.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 10:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Grant said...

I don't typically find people to be all that rude. The most frustrating thing I deal with is the lack of situational awareness most people exhibit. Maybe it's endless hours on patrol through the desert, but I for damn sure know what's going on around me. You won't see me block an aisle with my shopping cart or not know a car is in my blind spot or that someone is trying to get around me to the soda machine at McDonald's.

But I try not to chalk up to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Further, I'm of the opinion that people are pretty much the same today as they've always been (else why would you read Shakespeare in high school English?) thus I'm skeptical that things were ever better "way back when", or of any premise that involves something about human nature radically changing in just a few years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 1:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Grant,

I agree that it would be foolish to think we can see an evolution/devolution in human "nature" over the short run. But situationally, I think we can witness behaviors skewing due to external pressures.

That is what I notice: Like rats in overcrowded cages, there is more self-destructive and aggressive behavior being demonstrated.

As RangerHazen says, we can only be the example.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 2:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

RangerHazen,

I am glad you are who you are. We have had the privilege to meet some exceptional humans on this site, and you are one of them.

I would say it takes strength to be kind. Many who are not strong mistake bluster with strength, and I think people's fear of appearing weak and therefore vulnerable to being trod upon is a part of the problem.

When people see strength demonstraing kindness, that may help shift the paradigm. Kudos.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 2:27:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rudeness and just plain bad behavior in public... I find that I must disagree with Grant. I do believe that our (American) society has degraded to a startling degree. I see behaviors on a daily basis that would have been shocking and probably not tolerated in the 1950's, 1960's, and would have drawn negative attention during most of the 1970's. Behaviors such as spitting on sidewalks, men keeping hats or caps on inside buildings, while having a meal, during the national anthem, during prayer, etc. Men shouldering women out of the way in mall and store doorways. Folks out in public barely dressed, obviously unbathed and uncombed. Conversations carried on in public at maximum volume as well as never terminating the cell phone conversation while conducting business with cashiers, bank tellers, etc.

I won't even start on the screaming, out of control children.

Obnoxious to one degree or another seems to be perfectly acceptable.

Unfortunately, good behavior is the result of training beginning as a toddler until it becomes a reflex and I don't think we are likely to see that again in the U.S.

Jay in N.C.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 6:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Everyone's got a piece of the puzzle.

Grant is correct that people lack situational awareness, often moving without a purpose. This shows disregard for those who are on a path.

Last week I waited in line for 40 minutes at my local Post Office, and was told this was not unusual. When a worker from the back came up with his till offering to help, the sole counter worker said she had it "under control".

When a mild riot broke out upon hearing that, the worker said, "We have to get out of here on time." I thought, "We're all just off work, and we'd like to get home, too." Whose needs take precedence in a society of declining resources?

Jay is right in that good behavior is drummed as a result of early repetition. Around 35 years ago, the school systems decided anything goes in the way of grammar and written structure, and that free-for-all mimicked/encouraged lax behaviors elsewhere, IMHO.

For sure, Peter Pans and Cinderellas always existed, but it seems to me that we now live in a preternaturally puerile culture where entitlement is the order of the day, regardless of age or social standing.

Are the Baby Boomers and their spoiled offspring to blame? I think for much of it, yes. I concede I live in a somewhat depressed area of the country. But I am saddened that I am disgusted by people's rudeness all-too-often.

As RH says, we can choose to be the change we wish to see and hope it passes down the line, though there are no quarantees. But it is the only hope, shy of living in a hermitage.

We are also doing battle against a crude and thoughtless media onslaught. Is it merely, as the executives explain, representing a culture on the skids that's already there? I think music and media are complicit in enforcing the harshness we see.

I think the only answer is parental involvement, so how do you grow better parents?

I'm with Jay: If good behavior is not modeled early, that irascible child will often become hell-on-wheels later, and the unsavory "adults" that we see always putting themselves first.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Grant said...

Well, I'm no expert, but I believe that I could come up with a laundry list of egregious social customs, evil historical events, and general acts of rudeness from the 40s-70s in the US and the whole world. But as long as men take off their hats at certain arbitrary times, I guess that's the yardstick.

Sorry, but that seems positively silly to me! However, if you can show me how someone's hat situation has negatively affected you or someone else, though, I'd be glad to reconsider my idea.

"But situationally, I think we can witness behaviors skewing due to external pressures."

I would definitely agree with that. These are uncertain times, and people certainly do lash out. But in my experience, it's the customer who has had a bad day and chooses to lash out at those who are unable to respond, the cashier, the waitress, etc. Of course, those people are few and far between (maybe 1 rude customer for every 100 people you check out) they simply have a disproportionate effect on your psyche.

That might be a good exercise for when we get frustrated at a rude person... Maybe if we get cut off in traffic, consider the 1000 or so other cars we drove by who didn't cut us off even though they could have.

I agree, we have no control over someone's hat situation but we can strive to be the best we can be.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 7:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Grant,

Agreed -- it would seem hats are rather superficial. And yet, they are a barometer of social propriety, a quality we eschew today when wearing boxer shorts outside of jeans is the norm.

You can see it at sports stadiums: A great many fail to stand for the national anthem, or talk away. They no longer know the words, or to place their hand over their heart. Small things, yes, but they add up to a certain disrespect, or disdain, or obliviousness ...

Advocates for this behavior call it freewill, and that it is. Yet in civil society we must consider where freewill bumps up against the other. What is rude? What helps a society cohere, or fall apart.

IMHO, all worthy considerations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 9:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops! Men and their hats, or more often ballcaps, either touched a nerve or was taken as my singular point.

Courtesy is just polish or oil that makes our interactions more controlled and pleasant for all concerned. I will continue to believe that offering one's seat to a pregnant woman or an elderly person is courteous. Just as I continue to believe that saying "thank you" and "please" are pleasant things to do. I expect all of us know the very long list of things that fall under "courtesy" that contribute to ease of interaction with others.

The lack of courtesy does not usually threaten life or limb. It is not fatal for me to see dirty people in an advanced state of undress - on a plane, no less. I am not substantially harmed while having a meal in a restaurant with one or two around me eating with their mouths partially open and smacking loudly enough to be heard across the room while talking on their cell phones.

Good manners dictate that one continues to be courteous in the face of loutish behavior. It is the height of bad manners to embarrass another!

Without the civilizing influence of good parental training, we are a disgusting and unattractive lot who blow noses on napkins and fail to flush toilets.

Historical events and national policy are topics for another day. However, it is possible that more civility would benefit our current political process.

I cast my vote for the artificiality of good manners. ;)

Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 5:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Grant said...

I would say that the issues with our country run much deeper than most people care to think about. Lack of common courtesy, the economy, poor parenting, and the election of Bush and Obama are but symptoms of a rejection, over the past 100 years, of what made America great.

What made America great was not how polite we are or our national pride or destructive wars or the wise men of Congress supplanting the evil aristocrats of old, it was the embrace of liberty as a principle and the right of each man to pursue his own self interest and fulfill his desires in whatever way best pleases him.

In a world without property rights, you're always going to have people spitting on the sidewalks.

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 1:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous RangerHazen said...

"What made America great was not how polite we are or our national pride or destructive wars or the wise men of Congress supplanting the evil aristocrats of old, it was the embrace of liberty as a principle and the right of each man to pursue his own self interest and fulfill his desires in whatever way best pleases him."

BULLSHIT!

This "Libertarian" fantasy has been responsible for destroying our country more than any other...All Avarice Greed Murder Hate and Murder and Our Civil War, The Great Depression, and the Current Depression. can be traced back to this "ideal"

We were/are at out strongest when we came together and helped each other...

Freedom can only be kept when one insures the health and welfare of his neighbor...

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." A. Lincoln

Friday, July 30, 2010 at 2:11:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GEES ranger hazen, you're a polite compassionate human being. you're a dharma bum. your buhda;'s buddy. you're transcendent. that is UNTIL, someone offers a contrary opinion. Where did the politeness go. Did he stray to far from your cheap viewpopint? Where's the politeness you talk about now? Fraud! Gee, who's rude? Keep your hat on.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 12:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RH is doing o.k. I think he might have felt obligated to argue against each man for himself and to hell with the other guy.

"We were/are at out strongest when we came together and helped each other..."

I agree, RH, and think this might migrate into RAW's "patriotism" posting.

My own postings were literal comments on basic, daily common courtesy and nothing more.

Jay in N.C.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 11:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon,
It's possible that Ranger Hazen, god bless em, has been reading too much Hermann Hesse and has forgotten his basic Ranger couth training.
We are supposed to be kind to the folks that we don't kill.
Too much California sun, mixed with truth, love and beauty can distort reality.
In addition, wearing one's head gear in the military implies/means that we are under arms.
This hat analogy may have affected him metaphorically since, he has disarmed. So to speak.
It's hard for me to facilitate when all are so fucking kind and gentle.
jim

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 11:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, just to be obnoxiously relentless...

Courtesy and kindness are different things.

One man might blow his nose at the dinner table but be the very soul of kindness. Another man might have polished manners but be lethal otherwise.

No?

Jay in N.C.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 1:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Jay,

Politesse can indeed be false, and mask the most venal intent.

Kindness is the only thing that really matters. In this, I'm more with RangerHazen, less with Grant's hard Objectivism on this one.

Self interest may grease the wheels of capitalism, but humanity and generosity make life worth living.

Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 3:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps i'm a simpleton. I don't understand the line of demarcation here. Yeah, i guess a lot of good has come from peeps VOLUNTARILY comming together for a goal. Conversely,also think that with most wars if everyone followed their own self interest, withdrew their consent, & stayed the hell home, WE'D ALL be a lot better for it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 10:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We are supposed to be kind to the folks that we don't kill." LOL! out-effingstanding! :P

Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 1:33:00 AM GMT-5  

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